“The path is beautiful and pleasant and joyful and familiar.”
-Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 – c. 1328)
I hope everyone had a restorative summer and is excited about the new church year! I missed church and each of you this summer. You were in my heart as I practiced taking a rejuvenating break from the many demands of ministry.
Being away from church meant I had more time for family and friends. It also meant having time to swim each day, meditate, and I even started painting! I pray these activities continue. A highlight of my time away was a rafting trip in the SF Bay Area. I also reconnected with the Ashk Chishti Dergahs — my sufi “fire of love” community — and attended a summer course series on the teaching of the great sufi master Hz. Najm ad-Dīn Kubrà. I can’t wait to share some of what I learned with you in worship this year.
Our worship and ministry theme this month is “renewal.” It can be broadly defined as “to make new again” or “to refresh.” I know it is something we’ve had to cultivate for ourselves and with community in these challenging months. We will explore renewal in our annual Ingathering Water Communion Service next week, through our many social justice commitments, and by relying on our community for the support and love that has the power to “make all things new.”
I’d like to highlight a few of our upcoming events, activities, programs, and some new ways for you to be involved with this important work in the weeks before us:
Ingathering Water Communion
We will celebrate the arrival of the new church year with our Ingathering Water Communion from the safety of our homes on Sunday, September 13th, at 10 am. We are hoping you might be willing to record a short video of yourself or your family pouring a libation of water into a larger bowl of water with a few inspiring words to include in the service. Please be sure to record in a quiet and well-lit space and with at least a 720p HD resolution camera (such as on most phones), if possible. Saunder (music@uusm) needs the videos by Tuesday evening (September 8) so please email them to him. If you are unable to record a video, you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) a sentence of a wish, memory, hope, or blessing for the new church year by Wednesday evening (September 9) and I will try to include them in the ceremony.
The Call to Racial Justice
We are responding to the call for racial justice on Sunday mornings, through our many Faith in Action activities, with new religious exploration curricula for our young people, through deep Chalice Circle conversations, and by forming a new church commission that will help to assess and catalyze intersectional anti-racism and anti-oppression work throughout the life of the congregation. If you have expertise in these fields and are interested in applying to serve in this new leadership body of the congregation, please email me so I know you’re interested in being involved.
UU the Vote
We are committed to doing all we can to fulfill the UUA’s #VoteLove pledge and to defend our sacred UU values of freedom, democracy, and justice. Help us with this work by joining the Santa Monica UU the Vote Team today! Also, please plan to join us as we mobilize as a community on Sunday, September 13th after service at 11:30 a.m! RSVP here.
Chalice Circles – New Small Group Ministries!
Chalice Circles, our new small group ministry program, are small lay-led groups of 8 to 10 people that will meet together over time to deepen and expand the ministry of the church. By meeting together over time, being willing to share deeply from the heart and the soul, and by listening with an open heart we deepen our awareness of our own lives and hold with care the lives of others.
The focus of the groups is on meaning and significance rather than on details, information, and outcome. We are offering a variety of groups this year, starting in October. Examples are Spirit in Practice, Poetry as a Spiritual Practice, Transitions and Passages, and Anti-racism: Telling Our Stories Toward a Beloved Community.
For information about Chalice Circles email ChaliceCircles@uusm.org and someone will get back to you.
A Word of Thankfulness
Thank you to everyone who helped to create an inspiring and restorative summer at UUSM. A special thanks to Kikanza Nuri-Robins, Dorothy Steinicke, Saunder Choi, Worship Associates, choir, musicians, and our special guest worship leaders for the excellent services this summer! Also a special thanks to our pastoral care leadership for tending to the hearts and souls of our congregation these past summer months. Let us remember those who we lost this summer and celebrate all of the new life in our midst. Together, we have empowered our beloved community to continue to fulfill our mission and live out our liberal religious principles in the world.
Yours in ministry,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae
Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica
September 4, 2020